What Iowa means

Timothy Kincaid

January 4th, 2012

Coming out of the Iowa caucuses, the total delegate count for each of the GOP presidential candidates now stand at zero. Because yesterday, Iowans didn’t vote for a presidential nominee; they voted for delegates to the Iowa Republican Convention.

And while the delegates they elected ran as stand ins for a specific candidate, they have no obligation to vote for that candidate at the convention and likely some will not do so. Because by the time that the Iowa delegates to the state Republican Party convention select their delegates to the national convention, the primary season will be virtually over and the candidate of their choice may no longer even be running.

Nor is the Iowa caucus process indicative of the views of the electorate and who will be victor in November. Last cycle, Mike Huckabee was the clear winner of the caucuses and eventual GOP nominee John McCain came in fourth.

In fact, Iowan caucusers should probably be known best not for what they predict, but for their inclination to give support to candidates that are so far out of the mainstream as to be laughable. In 1996 they gave Pat Robertson 23%, just slightly less than Bob Dole and in 2000 wackadoodle extraordinaire Alan Keyes had 17%.

And I would caution against seeing this process solely in terms of pro-Mitt or anti-Mitt. It is my observation that while a populace may switch loyalties between various similar candidates (Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich), those who are loyalists to their candidate (the ones elected as delegates) often hold greater enmity towards the other comparable candidates than they do to the alternate choice. Perry delegates may well hate Santorum more than they do Romney.

So what exactly did yesterday’s vote determine? Nothing.

Well, nothing other than fodder for pundits and marketing tools for candidates. And market they will.

tim

January 4th, 2012

“So what exactly did yesterday’s vote determine? Nothing.”

Iowa doesn’t choose winners. It chooses the losers. Bachmann and Perry are now out and Gingrich is on the ropes (although Perry seems to now be undecided on that point now). To say it determined nothing is naive at best.

Timothy Kincaid

January 4th, 2012

tim,

No, Iowa doesn’t choose losers. Rather, Iowa – as the first state to elect anyone – provides the venue by which those who have no support anywhere are able to graciously step out of the race. John McCain’s fourth place in 2008 did not set his course as loser in the nominee race, nor did it deflect the eventuality of Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson losing the nomination.

To suggest that Iowa determined Bachmann’s fate is rather naive.

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